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E-Class arrives Down Under

words - Ken Gratton
Mercedes-Benz has launched a wider range of E-Class models locally, but one key image leader is missing
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Mercedes-Benz's all-new E-Class has officially arrived Down Under. And while the initial engine range is focused on top-end models, the new executive sedan and coupe line-up will eventually feature one of the widest ranges of powertrain variants offered by the brand locally.

At launch Benz has released the car in a two-engine/two bodystyle all-petrol range comprising E 350 V6 and E 500 V8 powertrains in both sedan or coupe.  The new C207 E-Class coupe replaces the C209 CLK. 

Later in the year (October-November), M-B will roll out four-cylinder turbodiesel (E 220 CDI and E250 CDI) and petrol (E 250 CGI) models plus the E 350 CDI diesel V6. In addition to these, an all-new E 63 sedan has been brought forward from its original launch date of February 2010 to a new projected arrival date of November this year.

Benz will introduce wagon and convertible variants late next year.

The four-cylinder E-Class models are delayed for the Australian market due to a production capacity shortfall (or market demand elsewhere, to put it another way). Markets other than Australia, where four-cylinder E-Class models are big sellers, will be given priority by the factory at Sindelfingen where all E-Class models are built. Locally, Benz expects to soak up demand for the new E-Class with the V6 and V8 models first, and satisfy buyers currently left without any stock to purchase -- Mercedes-Benz Australia says it has run out all its superseded W211 models ahead of the launch of the new car.

With new features and reduced pricing for most comparable variants, the new E-Class provides improved value for buyers, says the German giant. Prices start at $80,900 for the E 220 CDI sedan, which replaces the supercharged petrol E 200K as the entry-level E-Class sedan.

From the entry level, sedan prices rise to $93,900 for the E 250 CGI $96,900 for the E 250 CDI, $131,900 for the E 350 CDI, $128,900 for the E 350 and $178,900 for the non-AMG range-topping E 500.

According to Benz, the E 350 four-door is cheaper by $2965 than the W211 counterpart, but boasts $13,000 worth of extra features. While the E 500 is more expensive in the W212 generation, by $11,232, it packs $21,000 more equipment, it's claimed.

The coupe models kick off from $94,500 for the E 250 CGI and rise to $97,500 for the E 250 CDI, $127,500 (E 350) and $174,500 (E 500). Both the E 350 and E 500 coupes are more expensive than the CLK models they replace ($2414 and $18,695, respectively), but Benz calculates added value worth $9500 (E 350) and $28,000 (E500). All prices quoted are Manufacturer's List Prices (MLP) and do not include on-road costs and dealer delivery.

In brief, the V6 and V8 models will be trimmed to Avantgarde level, with Elegance trim a no-cost option. The standard alloy wheel is an 18-inch five-spoke design (17-inch when the Elegance option is specified). An AMG Sports Package is standard for the E 500 coupe, but is a $5700 option for the other E 350/E 500 Avantgarde variants.

The new E-Class comes to Australia with a history of nine generations of car behind it, dating back to the Ponton model introduced in 1953. Check out our international launch review of the new E-Class sedan. In the case of the E-Class coupe, there were three earlier generations of car prior to the introduction of the C208 CLK in 1997.

Peak power and torque figures for the E 350 and E 500 are 200kW/350Nm for the former and 285kW/530Nm for the latter. Fuel consumption (combined-cycle testing) and CO2 emissions figures will be 9.4L/100km and 219g/km for the E 350, 11.0L/100km and 258g/km for the E 500. Both engines will be matched to the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission.

Of the cars to come later in the year, the E 220 CDI develops 125kW/400Nm, the E 250 CDI develops 150/500Nm, 150kW/310Nm for the E 250 CGI and 170kW/540Nm for the E350 CDI. All four-cylinder E-Class variants are with a five-speed automatic transmission as standard.

Benz has pulled out all stops for this latest model, endowing it with visual cues from the earlier cars, but also blending outstanding aerodynamic efficiency of 0.25Cd for the sedan and 0.24Cd for the coupe.

Among the features fitted as standard for the launch model E 350 sedan there are such items as: parking guidance for the Parktronic system, folding rear seats, cupholders, space-saver spare wheel, Comand system with six-stack DVD, UCI media system with cables, reversing camera, ILS bi-xenon headlights, multi-contour front seats, Thermotronic climate control and lane-keeping package.

The E 500 comes standard with wood/leather steering wheel, luxury front seats (ventilated and heated), sun protection package, Keyless Go and anti-theft package.

Benz offers myriad options, including Distronic Plus active cruise control, Night View Assist Plus, Easy-Pack, rear-seat comfort pack (four-seat capacity only), anti-theft package and sun protection package (the last two for the E 350).

As we reported back in January, the one model missing from the new E-Class sedan/coupe line-up is a replacement for the CLK 63 AMG.

"AMG looked at it -- and they looked at [sales] volumes previously," said David McCarthy, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications at Benz.

"The CLK 63 was not a huge volume car for them and the decision was made to do it in sedan [only]. AMG hasn't 100 per cent ruled it out for the future, but currently there isn't a plan to do an AMG coupe."

Look out for our local launch review of the new E-Class sedan and coupe soon.

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Published : Tuesday, 21 July 2009

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